Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Emma's Dragon by M. Verant
Series: Jane Austen Fantasy #2
on March 26, 2023
Emma Woodhouse needs a dragon. Her life depends on it. But Emma’s dragon is claimed… by Elizabeth Darcy.
When Emma Woodhouse meets newly wed Elizabeth, a brush of their gloved hands unmasks the Darcys’ fantastic secret. Emma has discovered Yuánchi, the deadly dragon coveted by both Emperor Napoleon and England’s Secretary of War.
Luckily, secrets are nothing new for Emma. She has her own: a deathbed promise, and a clever plan to achieve it. The Darcys’ power, forbidden to her, might even help.
But clever plans can go astray. As treason stalks a royal ball, an avenging queen rises to ravage England. Survival rests on a fabled alliance: Emma and her secrets, Elizabeth and her dragon, and the magical music of Mary Bennet and Georgiana Darcy.
Will Emma, Elizabeth, and Mary unravel the mystery of the great wyves in time to save England and themselves?
A gritty Gaslamp fantasy adventure set in Jane Austen’s England introduces new players, a darker plot, and, of course, more fiery dragon action. M Verant’s colorful worldbuilding, nuanced characters, and suspenseful plot made for another enthralling read right to the very last tantalizing page.
Emma’s Dragon is the second installment in a read in order series.
While the first book, Miss Bennet’s Dragon, stuck closer to the original Pride & Prejudice storyline, Emma’s Dragon introduces an Emma Woodhouse much like the original, but the few other Emma characters are little like their original counterparts. Not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind.
Emma’s Dragon divides the focus between three main lead women characters- Emma Woodhouse, the newest on the scene, Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, and Mary Bennet.
Emma Woodhouse is a vastly different character from Elizabeth Darcy and her sister, Mary. Both the Bennet sisters are forces of nature in their own way. Elizabeth has a powerful connection with draca and is paired along with her husband to a dragon because she is a great wyve. Emma is also a great wyve, they learn quickly, like Darcy’s sister Georgiana who has an affinity for song magic, but Emma’s great wyve dragon magic takes a bit to tease out. She exudes confidence on the outside while trembles with fear and insecurity on the inside. I found her both likeable and insufferable in turn. The insufferable part was her determination to ‘fix’ Harriet and her life (just like my reaction to the original for doing the same thing) and pretend that the racial bigotry Harriet and Mr. Knighley, also of African descent, is not important as simply marrying well to attain social standing. Her strength of heart is also tested in the final scenes when the conflict rising through the book finally explodes with danger and tragedy for our intrepid band of good people and their draca.
I focused on Emma in this review, but there are strong story threads that follow the Darcy family and Mary Bennet, too. A lot of moving parts in this book that were never rushed nor confusing, but paced out well. This is a middle book so it finishes off some of the plot threads and leaves others there to pull readers forward into the next book which I think will be the grand finale.
All in all, the plot is in a dark, desperate place right now and I liked how the story got there. This is Gaslamp fantasy at its best and I can heartily recommend it to Austen lovers, dragon fantasy fans, or those who like an exciting historical with fantasy elements.
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